I first met Sophie Dupont in 2013, when we invited her to participate in the pop-up exhibition Girls Just Want to Have Fun in Copenhagen. When we met to talk about her contribution to the exhibition, she told me that she wanted to do a performance balancing on a seesaw with a real parrot. This became Abstract Performance, Balancing Act (945 Breaths).
That’s the kind of artist Sophie Dupont is. When she gets an idea, it will be realised no matter what it takes. If she needs to learn to weld to make a carousel for her first solo exhibition she will do just that. There is no stopping her. As an artist she is uncompromising and this combined with a determination and stamina beyond comparison makes her very unique as an artist.
The next performance we did together was A Slow Walk, Body And Room Encountering In Mirrors in 2014. Here Sophie dressed up in a mirror amour walking slowly though the gallery space, generously reflecting the other artists' artworks and the gallery space in her piece.
In 2015, I commissioned her performance Marking Breath at the National Art Festival in Voss in Norway. I had previously visited Voss and chosen the location, on top of a fell outside the local museum, overlooking the mountains and the inlet. Little did we know that in May, the sun would be up from 04:23 am until 10:41 pm, making Sophie's performance last a little over 18 hours, which none of us had taken into consideration. Also the winter had not loosened its grip at this point, so there was a cold wind sweeping the town and we had to get a thermal outfit in order for her to complete her marathon performance.
During those 18 hours, I witnessed first hand how she marked her breath one after the other, onto the silver plate without talking, eating or drinking. During the day visitors came by and stood or sat with her, some had come intentionally while others were out walking their dogs or jogging and happened to pass by accidentally. No one who saw the performance left indifferent, they were marked by her presence and the repetitive and meditative action of her performance.
Marking Breath has been performed in New York, Mexico City, The Dominican Republic, Seoul, Helsingborg, San Salvador, Miami, London, Rio de Janeiro, Guatemala and Svalbard.
Later that same summer, Dupont performed the first edition of her performance Watching the Night at Munkeruphus. Here she literally dug her own grave during the daytime in the garden. Dupont had been researching the burial rituals of various cultures for a long period of time and hereby mapped out several understandings of life and death. Her inscription of these in her piece maintained its focus on the transformative and thus avoided plunging into morbidity or melancholy — it was seen as a process.
As day became night Dupont took up her place, lying in her newly dug grave, where she remained awake and watched the night until dawn. Dupont transitioned herself from the exhausting, physical activity to the, through her gaze, observant and contemplative. She simultaneously turned many of the associations of “the night” on its head by actively participating therein.
Sophie Dupont’s performances and artworks are ultimately about human existence. Her artworks have a broad appeal and have an accessibility due to their alluring materiality (silver, gold, copper, iron and glass) and the communication with her audience. Her artworks may at first glance seem simple are so much more than that.
Drawing parallels to her background as a dancer, making a dance seem light, but use tremendous bodily strength and power to do a certain choreography. The undercurrent of Sophie Dupont’s art is existential subjects such as life, death, psychology, spirituality and how to exist in the world.
Her performances are either repetitive or lingers in a certain state of being for a duration of time offering her audience an almost shamanistic and healing state of mind, using her own body as the tool for others. Her artworks and performances are a physical experience demanding concentration of the viewer.
Sometimes her performances demand silence as with her ‘Marking Breath’ that offers an alternative to our fast paced, digital and screen-based lives. A chance to simply ‘be’ and breathe. As an artist Sophie Dupont offers us a possibility to pause and experience that which is within us, a sea of emotions in which we may find treasures.